Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri stood before Dunedin officials Jan. 24 and discussed what he knows to be on residents' minds.
What's being done about crime on Dunedin's south side?
He told residents not everything is as it seems and followed with a warning to think twice before breaking the law.
"The other thing that we’ve done ... is asked the residents to be patient with us," Gualtieri said. "Because there may be a lot of things going on, and some of the things you’re seeing, and some of the things they don’t see that I can tell you that we do have in the south part of the city now — and I’m not going to share much about it other than to say it's there — we do have significant undercover law enforcement activity going on.
"So those that are out there selling drugs and doing things they shouldn’t be doing, think about it, because the person that you’re involved with may be working on behalf of law enforcement or may be a law enforcement officer.
"That’s going on down there, and we do that in a lot of parts of the county, and we’re doing it here in Dunedin. People need to know there’s a lot going on beyond the obvious."
Gualtieri also said that a recently appointed community policing deputy is beginning to have a significant impact on eliminating crime in south Dunedin from the northern unincorporated Clearwater neighborhoods.
(Gualitieri was careful not to refer to the area as the "southside" out of respect for identity concerns residents brought up during a Nov. 13 Town Hall meeting.)
"The area south of Union Street, north of Sunset Point Road in that unincorporated area because I know the statistics and from the information that we received, is that area (crime) was having a bleed-over affect into south Dunedin in that area," he said.
Gualtieri shared these statistics from south Dunedin between October and December 2012:
- 60 percent decrease in residential burglaries
- 60 percent decrease in number of batteries
- 68 percent decrease in number of thefts
- 42 percent increase in arrests (as a result of 10.5 percent increase directed patrols)
- 42.9 percent decrease in crashes
- 218 citations
- 624 warnings issued
The sheriff's office is scheduled to appear again before the commission during the second meeting in April.
Gualtieri said he would personally try to be at all Dunedin's quarterly meetings.
A member of the now-defunct Lyndhurst Street Neighborhood Watch publicly lauded the Sheriff's Office for their support.
"They have done a fabulous job," Amy Poteet said. "They've really worked really hard and we've worked with them, kinda behind the scenes. And they've done a great job cleaning up our streets."
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[Last updated Moday, Jan. 28, 2013 at 11:51 a.m.]